LFS Introduces…Fran Brady & Love Ghana

Hello. Thanks to LFS for the chance to be a guest post. My real name is Frances Young but my penname is Fran Brady so that’s what I go by on Facebook. My maiden name (such a funny, old-fashioned expression that seems now) was Brady so I am really me by either name. A rose by any other.

I started writing fiction about four years ago. I’d always wanted to write (something a bit more imaginative than research reports, feasibility studies, staff appraisals and funding proposals, which I spent my professional life on) but it wasn’t until I reached the great age of retirement that I got the chance. Since then, after a few creative writing courses, I have been hooked.

To my own and everyone else’s astonishment, I have churned out millions of words resulting in one published and one unpublished novel and another one in first draft form at present. My published novel is The Ball Game and you can buy it on Amazon and in some bookshops.

Recently one of my daughters set up a new charity to raise money for mothers and children in Ghana. “What would I like to do for it?” she asked me. Dreading another sponsored walk – I love the walking but hate collecting the money – I decided to put together some of my short stories, fund the first print run and sell them at £5 each. The full £5 from each copy goes to the charity, which is Love Ghana


So Tales to Dip Into is now available from: franbbrady@aol.co.uk. Just email me that you want one (or more) and I will send you an order form.

Then relax, uncurl your toes and dip them into this little book… Meet a mad woman in the streets of Florence, a baby speaking from the womb and a nonagenarian going courting. Watch Facebook ‘friends’ at the Edinburgh Book Festival, go to garage sales in Toronto and attend the last performance of a stage legend. And much more! Fifteen funny, romantic, sad, dark and quirky tales – three of each.

Indulge yourself and support a wonderful cause at the same time.

Go on… You know you want to.

You can get a copy of Tales To Dip Into to support Love Ghana by e-mailing Fran (click here) Find out more about Fran Brady by heading over to her website www.franbrady.com. You can also find out more about Love Ghana on facebook or by heading over to their website.

Thank you Frances (aka Fran!) for sharing with us, I love your writing, and hope that the book raises lots of funds for Love Ghana!

LFS Introduces… Angela De Souza from D7 Church in Gloucester, England

I’m Angela De Souza, I live in Cheltenham, England. My husband and I pastor D7 Church in Gloucester, England. We also play in the band and we are currently recording our very first CD, which is extremely exciting.

We have loved the journey of church planting. It’s incredibly to be a part of God’s work and seeing how he saved and changes life. No matter how difficult it gets it is always worth it when you see someone break through from darkness into light, from addictions into freedom, from hopelessness into hope!

It was never our intention to plant a church; no not in our wildest dreams did we ever see ourselves doing this. Our daughter started it all, we had moved from London to Cheltenham and she stared at a new school. She was 14 at the time. It was tough for her and she complained that she couldn’t make any friends that shared the same values as her. After some time of struggle she decided to see school as her mission field. If she couldn’t find friends that shared her values then she would win people to Jesus and help them to become the friends that she needed. She of course didn’t say it quite like that, this is me paraphrasing.

Soon she insisted that we start a youth group at our home so that we can get to know the young people, so we did. Within months they were getting saved! We started to present the gospel and as they got saved we realised that we had a discipleship problem, we needed to get these baby Christians disciple and our church was over and hour’s drive away, we couldn’t get them all to church. At a meeting with our pastor about this problem we asked permission to start a discipleship group for these young people and when we walked out of the meeting we were given permission to start a church! Still today we don’t know how this happened. How did it go from asking to start a discipleship group to being released to plant a church. We had NEVER preached before, never don’t anything at all like this – why us!!!

Anyway, the short story is, we did and here we are LOVING the journey!

The best part of the journey has been life change and not only in the lost that come to know Jesus but in our team. I have the honour of working with the most amazing leadership team. They consist of our daughter who is now 18, her boyfriend who is one of the very first young people to be saved at the youth group, another young person who was our very first convert as a new church and a trainee whom he lead to Jesus. Along with this amazing bunch of young people is my husband, myself and one other “grown up” ha ha. Many people laugh when they hear about our team and often refer to them as our “leadership team” as if it is not a real team.

They may be young but they are the most reliable people I have ever worked with. Never have I come across such amazing people who are passionate about the cause of Christ and will do whatever it takes to build this church. Adult Christians have come and gone, added their two pennies worth, not got their own way, complained about how we did things, threw in some Bible verses to justify what they say, stir up a mess in Church and then leave. This has happened several times. Through it all the very ones that they look down at have remained faithful and have simply got on with the work. No theological debates, no longs emails with complaints or loads of unnecessary questions. They get what it’s about, the simple message of the gospel, and they get on with it. I could it a huge privilege and honour to work with this awesome leadership team.

Here are some links where you can keep up with what God is doing at D7 Church.

Our website: www.d7church.co.uk

Our community: www.d7community.co.uk

Thank you Angela for sharing the journey your family has been on to plant a church!

You can also follow Angela’s blog King’s Daughters at http://kingsdaughters21.blogspot.com and you can also purchase her book: Hope’s Journey on Amazon.

LFS Introduces… Nicola Hulks & Stars in Unexpected Places

Today I’m very excited to introduce you to one of my most lovely of friends – Nicola Hulks!

So the reason Laura Anne has asked me to come along is to talk about my new short story collection, Stars in Unexpected Places. This was released a couple of weeks ago now and is being sold in aid of the aid and development charity Tearfund in Paperback and E-book format. The stories in the collection are really just about people’s lives, little snapshots that tell bigger tales. Some are old stories, familiar stories from the bible but rewritten from a different perspective. Some are about romance, holding hands in the rain. Some are about freedom, quitting a job you can’t stand and battling with yourself when you think better of it. Some are funny. Some are sad. A bit like life really! And that’s the thing with short stories and is the reason why I wrote them and why I write anything at all. They can capture so much in so few words. Through simple things that life is made up of, a picture, a conversation, they say something bigger than just the moment told.

I started writing more seriously when I went to Zambia with Tearfund to visit some of the partners working on the ground for the organisation. Partners are local people who see a need in their community and work tirelessly to see it met. This means that money raised by Tearfund goes direct to the people who need it most and is administered by people who live in the community and know it best. It was in Zambia that I realised how much meaning can be in those little moments. I travelled around Zambia meeting people who had benefited from the support of the charity and the things that I saw really stayed with me. One day we were driving through a desperately poor area, our tyres bouncing in and out of the potholes, when I saw a sign sprayed in thick black paint on the wall of a market stall saying ‘God Knows’. This spoke more to me than hours of conversations about economics and the route out of poverty because yes, he does know and I think it quite breaks his heart.

Some of my experiences in Zambia feature in Stars in Unexpected Places and these stories are ultimately about hope because that’s how I left, feeling hopeful. And I feel hopeful now, that this little collection of stories might do a bit more of the wonderful work I saw started. You can have a read of some sample stories on my website and I’m currently doing a blog tour of the book, telling the stories behind the stories and giving a sneak peak of what you can expect from it. I hope you like it.

Nicola

For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of being in Nicola’s company, you are indeed missing out – but you can catch Nicola over on her website www.nicolahulks.co.uk and on twitter @nicolahulks.

LFS Introduces…Carolyn & Anjali House in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Please introduce yourself…

I’m Carolyn;  I’m a 31-year-old Scottish girl who now lives in Cardiff, South Wales.

What is Anjali House?

To properly answer this, I need to explain a bit of Cambodian history and culture. I’ll try to be concise.

Between 1975 and 1979, under the regime of Pol Pot and the communist Khmer Rouge party, approximately 21% of the Cambodian population (an estimated 1.7 to 2.5 million people) were killed. Pol Pot’s vision was for an agriculture based communist utopia, and two of his methods of promoting & achieving this were to close schools (everyone was now to be a subsistence farmer, working to provide for Cambodia’s own needs so it would have no need for the Western world) and to kill anyone with any level of prior education (as they may have been a threat to the new ‘utopia’).

Cambodia as a country has been ‘reeling’ from this ever since. Although Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge are long gone, the legacy of their rule was a country in ruins – no economy, no infrastructure, and the huge problem of a pretty much uneducated and unskilled population. Either you were educated before the Pol Pot rule and were killed due to being educated, or you didn’t receive any education to begin with as you were a child during the regime as you worked in the fields instead of attending school and after the regime was over there was no infrastructure for schooling and no educated citizens to teach you.

Fast-forward 30 years…

Cambodia is a country that’s done a pretty good job of piecing itself back together. It’s still a very, VERY poor country. But it has an infrastructure of sorts. It has an economy of sorts. It has a stable government. It’s getting there. Corruption is rife. There are still live landmines all over the place. It’s not perfect. But in spite of all this, it’s getting there.

The education gap is still there though. It’s one of the things Cambodia can’t easily fix on its own. Another generation has passed, but they didn’t have anyone to teach them either. And so the cycle continues.

There are ‘public’ schools in Cambodia, but the fees (a few dollars a month) plus the need for a uniform and the lost earnings of the child make it an unobtainable dream for most Cambodian families.

And this is where NGO’s (Non Government Organisations) come into the picture, and where I finally get back to the original question…

What is Anjali House?

Anjali House (pronounced An-jah-lee) is an NGO in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  I was privileged to spend a month there in summer 2009 working as a volunteer English and General Studies teacher.

Anjali aims to provide support, education and healthcare provision to street kids who otherwise wouldn’t have access to these things.  In practice, this means…

  • The kids attend Anjali for half a day, and public school for the other half (Anjali pays their fees and provides them with a uniform).
  • Many of the health problems affecting Cambodian children are a result of poor diet and unsuitable drinking water. To attempt to counter this, the children at Anjali receive two healthy meals (breakfast and lunch) and a fruit snack each day, and have access to filtered drinking water throughout the day.
  • Due to the lack of clean water and the constraints of poverty, many of the children had never used soap or cleaned their teeth. They now bathe every morning at Anjali and are educated in the importance of personal hygiene.
  • All Anjali children have regular medical and dental health checks provided by the project. They will also be taken to hospital or the doctors if necessary.
  • As one of the conditions of attendance at Anjali, the child is no longer allowed to be sent out to work on the streets begging, selling trinkets etc. The families receive a weekly allowance of rice to compensate for the loss of income.

There are currently approximately 80 children at Anjali. Enrolment is by application (and based on social and economic testing). Due to lack funds and constraints of space, Anjali currently is not accepting any further applications at this time.

Tell us how you ended up going over to Cambodia to work with the team at Anjali?

The short answer is it felt like the right thing to do at the right time.

The longer answer is that I had recently resigned from a job I’d once loved after a prolonged chain of events (clash of personalities with one of my bosses, what I believe was an institutional bullying campaign, an unrealistically large work load, a nervous breakdown and a 5 month absence due to stress, a subsequent formal grievance process, and so on) None of it is particularly interesting reading. Suffice to say it wasn’t the best period in my life.

I had (and still have) an incredibly supportive partner in my boyfriend, Ian. He not only encouraged me to bite the bullet and resign, but told me to take as much time as I needed to recharge my batteries, get my head straight again, get over the lousy year I’d had and generally become myself again.

I realised that I’d been defining myself primarily by my job for a long time, and that I needed and wanted to change that.

I’d just posed the question ‘what next?’ when my friend Beth had returned from a month in Cambodia, having been placed at Grace House by a volunteer organisation called Globalteer. She’d come back on schedule purely to attend her own university graduation, and was planning on heading straight back out to Siem Reap. She told me I ought to come with her. I decided to roll with that.

Beth later decided that although she’d love to return straight away, it wasn’t to be. I applied anyway, thinking that it probably wouldn’t be possible. Less than a month later I was on a plane, having been placed at Anjali by Globalteer.

What are the most important things you learned from your time at Anjali?

I think I learned a lot, but it’s incredibly difficult to describe the experiences I had, words just don’t seem to do it justice. I can honestly say it was one of the best months of my life. (I STILL want to go back).

I learned that you don’t have to be perfect to be a volunteer. You just have to be enthusiastic. I’m a perfectionist, and as such, frequently worry that my best isn’t good enough.  It was, and you get lots of help and support from the staff and other volunteers at Globalteer.

I learned that there’s a place for all personality types in this sort of environment. I’m very much an introvert, and in the beginning found myself feeling inadequate due to the fact that I wasn’t an ‘all out’, loud, confident presence around the kids during non lesson times. Pretty soon I realised that not all of the kids were extroverts either, and the fact that I interacted with them in a different manner to some of the other volunteers didn’t actually matter.

I learned that there’s a peace that comes with just going with the flow and that somehow you’ll end up in the right place at the right time anyway – even if you didn’t see it coming.

I learned that I can’t solve everything for everyone, but that’s not a reason to stop trying to at least make a small difference. There’s an old Scottish saying that –  “Mony a mickle maks a muckle” (translation: lots of small things make up a large thing), and I realised that I need to stop worrying about the ‘Muckle’, and just get on with my ‘Mickle’.

How can we support Anjali?

There are lots of ways…

Volunteer over there. I promise, you will NOT regret it. You don’t need a month; however long you have is fine. And if I can do it, ANYONE can.

Raise awareness of Anjali, who & what they are and what they do. You’re welcome to use the information & pictures on my blog.

Make a donation/ host a fundraising event for Anjali. I’ve been there and can personally verify that every dollar is put to good use. If you’re a UK tax payer, you can gift aid your donation to make it worth and extra 28%.

Sponsor an Anjali child Please be aware though that Anjali don’t generally allow sponsors to visit the kids (Cambodia, unfortunately seems to be fast becoming the new Thailand in that respect, and that fact breaks my heart).

If people wanted to pray for you, what would you have them talk to God about on your behalf?

Prayer isn’t something I’ve figured out, so I’m not entirely sure how to answer that sincerely. I guess the best answer I can give is ‘however they feel led’.

Cambodia is a beautiful country with beautiful people, who lead hard, hard lives. I’d like to hope it’ll get better for them.

The kids at Anjali come from some pretty hopeless backgrounds, I’d like to think that they’ll have better futures than pasts.

I’d hope that their time at Anjali makes them feel loved and validated and allows them to have a childhood.

I’d like to hope that they won’t have to go to bed hungry again.

I’d like to hope that they grow up create a better world than the one they were born into.

Thank you so much for sharing about Anjali House with us Carolyn. We’re also really happy to announce that Carolyn will be returning to Cambodia and Anjali House this summer! You can find out more about Anjali House by going to www.anjali-house.com and follow more of Carolyn’s tales of Cambodia, plus life as a Scottish lass in Wales on her blog http://searchingforbrokenness.blogspot.com


Soon to be making a return

Sorry about the unplanned break.

A lot has been going on, with work, and then with the demise of my iBook – I lost many e-mails (and e-mail addresses) not to mention some posts and so on. Very sad and frustrating times.

However, I’ve been given the wonderful gift of a MacBook now to replace my poor faithful iBook. I’m still finding my way around, but now I’m back and ready to get stuck into finding some people with things to share.

E-mails have gone out today to people who have expressed an interest in sharing.

It’s never to late to put yourself forward if you have something you’d like to share with the world…please do leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you via e-mail!

Hope to see you back here soon!

Laura Anne x

Looking for Input…

Hi.

South Africa Fortnight (though longer than a fortnight) was AWESOME! Thank you so much for everyone who contributed – so many wonderful photos!

Just to give you a wee update on everyone…

Caroline has just cut her son’s hair (those of you who follow her blog know that this is a BIG deal for Caroline & Mark) and is now an Auntie! They are getting ready for their first shoe distribution.

Alece is still in the USA, and the Thrive Africa store is up and running. Check it out by clicking here. They are doing a huge fundraising push so they can continue all the work they are currently doing in South Africa.

Liam & Rachel are currently back at the YWAM base in Kona, Hawaii. Pray for them as they get prepared and look for God to provide so they can return on a more permanent basis to start work in Masi.

Phil & Rachel are in Durban, and have got a lot of training, mentoring and education work going there.

Carl has had a stressful time at Seed of Hope recently, and the Waldrons took some time to recover at the beach. Pray for Carl, Michelle & the Seed of Hope team as they try and deal with & make sense of what has been going on.

You can get more info by clicking to the ‘Our Guests’ tab (at top of the page), and you’ll find links to various blogs, twitter feeds and websites so you can keep up to date with the folks you’ve been introduced to so far.

Which leads me on to some questions I have for you, if you are willing to respond…

1. Would you/your organisation like to be introduced here? Would you be willing to do a guest post (written or video)?

2. What questions would you like to be asking our guests?

3. What things/people/organisations/stories/issues do YOU think need more awareness?

Leave a comment with your thoughts, and feel free to share a link to this post on Twitter or Facebook - the URL: http://wp.me/pLkyR-2q

LFS Introducing… gets introduced at MyLifeByFaith

So my lovely friend Lisa asked if I’d answer some questions so she could pop up a post on her own blog MyLifeByFaith about why I started LFS Introducing… and what my vision for this new ‘spin-off’ blog of Learning From Sophie is!

I love that she called it a ‘spin-off’. :)

So if you want to know a little bit more about my journey to get into this new blog project, and how you can help get LFS Introducing … to reach further, you can read the post here.

Thank you to Lisa for giving me the opportunity to share on her blog!

Love,

Laura Anne x


Welcome

Welcome to LFS Introducing...! We hope that you find a story here that will encourage you to pursue the dreams you've been given, or inspire you to do something you've never done before. Perhaps you'll meet people that will become your mentors or friends. Maybe you'll learn something new. Whatever it is, we'd love to hear about it, so do share with us in the comments section.

If you'd like to share your story and be 'LFS Introduced' you can find out how to do that by clicking on the image below.

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